Monday, July 4, 2011

Declare Independence from Military-Industrial Complex

Independence is a myth. We life forms are all inter-dependent and related to one another, whether we acknowledge it or not. A tax revolt by some rich landowners resulted in an attractive document and an appealing ideology: no monarchs, and an educated (read: literate) and well-informed populace engaged in self-government. Unless they were female, indigenous, African, underage, or just plain poor. (RIP Howard Zinn.)

People sometimes wonder, why do I care so much about Afghanistan? Because I've been there? Maybe because I've paid taxes for decades now, and they are mostly used to bomb people, and for ten years many of those people were Afghans.
No, it's mostly because the students in the schools where I teach are used as cannon fodder. The school board allows the recruiters right in the lunch room. The poverty draft is blowing so hard at this point it sweeps a lot of people right off their unemployed feet.

My friend and I will publish a novel for teens this week that looks at another aspect of the long war: living with family members after they come back from deployment suffering from PTSD. This is also a fact of life for many of my students, and the surrounding community.

My husband and I refused to pay part of our federal income taxes this year. That was an act of rebellion, of dissent and, yes, independence. The amount we refused to pay was far less than 56% of what we owed, which would have represented the portion of everyone's federal spending on military this fiscal year. But most of what we owed had been deducted from my paycheck already. So we just refused to write a check for $600 or so. The IRS sent us a letter claiming we had filed a frivolous 1040 form. Au contraire, I have seldom done anything that was less frivolous.

Why do my friends who were arrested in Athens fasting at the U.S. Embassy care about Gaza? It is far away from where they make their homes, and practically invisible to most USians.
Medea Benjamin & Ann Wright on the US boat to Gaza "The Audacity of Hope" as it tries to sail from Greece to escape sabotage during weeks of bureaucratic delays & false accusations.
They care because they know that people are being collectively punished; Gaza has been blockaded since its people elected Hamas candidates back in the free and fair elections of '05. The corruption and collaboration of the Palestinian Authority may have been revealed to the rest of the world via Wikileaks this year, but to the largely refugee population in Gaza it was old news. And after Israel's Operation Cast Lead attacks in '08 destroyed so much and so many lives (detailed in a report by Amnesty International) -- the blockade of construction materials, medicine and school supplies continues.

Medea and Ann don't launch rockets into Israel. They signed a pledge to uphold the principles of nonviolent methods. Besides, the pen really is mightier than the sword. Flotilla 2 -- Stay Human has been a public relations battle of epic proportions, one Israel is losing.

Tactics include publicizing the effort to sail to Gaza with thousands of letters of support to the people there; inviting the press to an open inspection of the boat "Audacity of Hope"; sailing and then having their boat forced back to port as seen in this video, and their captain arrested; fasting and then being arrested in front of the U.S. embassy in Athens (since the Greeks have told flotilla passengers they are not allowed to sail because their own government has demanded it); and calling on people like you and me to contact the U.S. State Department after it told the flotilla passengers if they got hurt it was their own fault for being provocative.

If you like to study history as I do, you will have noticed that acts seen as provocative at the time -- and roundly condemned by those in power -- are often revealed as revolutionary in hindsight. Because they offered an analysis that was missing from the received wisdom of their day.

Here's the most revolutionary thing I know: nonviolent methods are effective; they do not require a peaceful disposition to practice; they work whether or not practitioners and observers believe in them; they do not require charismatic leaders; and they are sure to be opposed with violence. I believe they are our last best hope for saving the world from endless warfare and environmental catastrophe.

I invite you to join me in studying nonviolent methods.
Suffragettes released from jail, 1909

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